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A member of the new intake, who wants to remain anonymous, writes an open letter to Andrew McDonald, the Chief Executive of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
Dear Mr. McDonald,
I quote from your article in yesterday's Independent on Sunday:
“Gone are the old discredited allowances and in their place are clear, firm and fair rules about what MPs can and cannot ask from the taxpayer to enable them to do the job we elect them to do.
“Just a fortnight after the election, IPSA is now processing claims from MPs online under the new rules. For some – particularly those not familiar with what went before – their early impressions are favourable and many have said the system is simple to use and comparable with the expenses approach used by their previous employers.”
I believe a number of the statements you make are false and intentionally misleading.
I would be most interested in meeting any new or returning MPs who have said to you directly that their ”…early impressions are favourable” – because there are not any; or have said “…the system is simple to use” because it is not; and exactly which employers use similar systems for their expenses – becasue certainly none I have worked with have done.
Maybe either you, on whatever your salary is, or one of your three press officers, or the new Director of Communications whose salary is £25,000 per annum more than an MP’s salary, would also be kind enough to spend some of their taxpayer-funded time explaining to me how I communicate to those that elected me that I will have to spend at least two full working days a month filling out Byzantine forms that you designed and implemented with little or no regard to the reality of public service as an MP?
Your personal attitude is wrong, your system is overly complicated and skewed, and your organisation’s remit and ethos is, from what I have experienced so far, completely unreliable and works against MPs – not one that “works for them”, “works with them” and “works for” their constituents. Unless there is change, you will become as discredited as the Fees Office and former dishonourable MPs – very rapidly.
I have not emailed this to you directly, as many MPs will not email or telephone IPSA, because the Freedom of Information Act will mean any query will end up being in the newspapers.
You and your staff will not give any face-to-face advice because you do not know the answers to many queries and are more fearful than we are at ‘getting things wrong’ it seems. What a great way for the Mother of all Parliaments to enter a new era.
A new, honoured and honourable MP
(who so wished that MPs’ staff where employed centrally, expenses were specifically for offices only, and that MPs’ salaries had increased enough to remove the need for expenses – so much simpler, fairer and less open to abuse and taxpayers would not have had to fund anymore quangocrats like Andrew McDonald – it could have been cheaper, clearer and fairer all round. What cost is common sense?)